Waylaid at Whangaparoa – Souping Up the Solar

We woke beside Auckland Harbour on Monday 29 June. It was a wet grey morning, with the rain easing. The river of traffic was flowing out of the North Shore and over the harbour bridge. It was fun watching the ferries zooming by – that would be a good way to go to work. We were away by 10.30am, bound for the Majestic TV people in Albany. We were again travelling separately. Nev the Nav got a bit confused with new motorways around Albany. Light traffic and a couple of quick decisions kept us on route. The Majestic home is within a huge commercial estate in Albany where hundreds of businesses are housed. A wire seemed to have come loose on the TV connection – this is the drop-down one in our bedroom. More concerning was the discovery of water on top of the ceiling unit. There was moisture getting onto it from the cavity above. Luckily the unit checked out OK. The water won’t have helped it, and probably explained why it played up, and then came right again. The moisture probably resulted from condensation which is a bit of a problem all round. We left Suzi parked in the street there and went to visit Wyn’s cousin who lives only 2kms from there for coffee cake and catch-up. Then it was back to Suzi, back on the main motorway, and back north. But not far, we stopped at the Dairy Flat service centre for petrol for Suzi. I used the truck pumps, and had to park in the truck park out the back. There was a special truckles entrance to the service centre – the only thing was nobody was around to see me use it. We turned off the motorway at Silverdale, before the new toll road that swoops through the hills. At Silverdale we found Pierre at AA Solar, for a chat about power and how we seemed to be struggling to have enough. He suggested we didn’t have enough generating capacity for winter, and also needed to find ways to conserve. We already knew that, and were pleased to find that a few more panels could be squeezed in on the roof. And that he could squeeze us in on his schedule for installing them on the Wednesday. Wiring had been left for another panel, between our two 130W panels originally installed. There was room there for an 85W one, and room further forward for two more 85W panels. We decided to go for all three, and effectively double our generation capacity. The day was over by this stage, and we found our way to the Whangaparoa RSA carpark without too much trouble. It was raining again by then, and setting up was wet. After a quick tea, we went round in the car to catch up with my two cousins not far away. It was a lovely ending to a busy day. Tuesday was a grey sort of a day, although the rain had stopped. I caught up the blog a bit, and Wyn made some great cheese scones for lunch. Later we took the toilet cassettes to the dump station at Gulf Harbour marina. We hadn’t seen Gulf Harbour before – it’s a bit weird and over the top if you ask me. But the marina would be a nice place to park on a nice day. It was windy and cold this day though. On the way back along the peninsula we stopped at the mall. It was surprisingly big for a shopping centre perched on top of a ridge. Back at the RSA carpark we made yummy noodles for tea and later watched the final of Stars in Your Eyes in bed. Wednesday 1 July we woke early; it was a clear morning with a cold wind. We were away by 8.45am and headed back over to AA Solar. I backed into their driveway, graunching the bottom of the tow bar in the process. I must get the bit at the bottom of the tow ball ground off. In the end, installation took all day. In the morning we walked under the highway to the Silverdale shops. There were lots of clothing outlets with seconds and end of lines and stuff. Wyn bought a new swimsuit and I bought a new neck pendant – my old one has been deteriorating in the hot pools. In discussion with Pierre I decided a new solar controller would be good as well and he traded our one. The new ones are clever ones that manage to squeeze more power out of solar panels – it sounded good to me. By the time all this was ready, the sun was down and it wasn’t possible to see if the panels were working at all. That would have to wait for next morning. We’d hoped to be away north by the end of the day, but instead went back to the RSA carpark at Whangaparoa. We decided to have a meal at the RSA, it was our anniversary and we didn’t feel up to making tea. We resolved to be on the road early the next morning – we were keen to be heading north.

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